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THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS WORK.
The Peak of Derbyshire has been often visited by the British tourist, and the pencil and the pen have occasionally been employed to illustrate its most frequented scenery; hitherto, however, it has not been regarded as a place of primary consideration. Gilpin, whose mind was sensibly alive to all that is grand and picturesque in landscape, and who may deservedly be held in the highest estimation as an intelligent and entertaining traveller, has treated Derbyshire with apparent indifference. After passing hastily through several of its valleys, and spending an hour or two on the tops of some of its mountains, he has devoted a few pages only, in one of his works, to a brief detail of its beauties. His accurate and elegant descriptions of Dove-dale and Matlock, leave his readers to regret that he travelled over so small a portion of this remote part of the kingdom, and gave so little of his time and talents to the investigation of those romantic dells with which it abounds. The wild scenery on the banks of the Wye, which every where presents a rich variety of picturesque beauty, occasionally marked with great grandeur, is scarcely noticed by him. Even the magnificent mansion of Haddon, that venerable record of the hospitable manners and
customs of our old English baronage, occupies only a few short sentences. This veteran tourist passed through the Peak of Derbyshire immediately on his return from a journey to the Lakes, at a time when probably nothing less stupendous than the objects which he had left behind, could have attracted his attention.
Derbyshire, however, notwithstanding the neglect it has experienced, is richly stored with the most valuable materials for picturesque purposes. The wildness of its mountains, the beauty of its dales, and the various objects with which they are adorned, entitle it to a distinction it has never yet attained, and constitute a powerful claim to individual consideration. In works principally devoted to other objects, it has occasionally been permitted to appear; yet even then it has occupied but a subordinate situation ; expelled the foreground of the composition, it has only served to fill up the distance of the picture. Such are the considerations that have induced the author of these excursions to appropriate nearly the whole of his canvass to the scenery of Derbyshire, and to give it a station more honourable to its character, and more worthy of its pretensions. This highly interesting county abounds with objects of a more important character than rocks and rivers, dales and mountains ; objects that may animate the industry, and reward the research of the mineralogist ; supply the antiquary with materials that may excite him to penetrate into the secrets of days gone by, and enable him to unfold the records of former times ; gratify the lover of local history, and furnish to the geological student, and the man enamoured of philosophic speculation, an ample field for the display of their faculties, and the free indulgence of unrestrained conjecture. These, though not intimately connected with the immediate pursuits of the Picturesque Traveller, will frequently present themselves to his observation, and sometimes
require particular attention. The author of the following pages therefore hopes, that he shall not be closely confined within the narrow limits apparently prescribed by his original design, and the title under which he has chosen to appear ; but that, occasionally, he may be permitted to trespass beyond so circumscribed a boundary, whenever the history of the place he visits, or the stores which it may contain, promise to reward his wanderings.
From the preceding remarks it will appear that no regular topographical account of any part of Derbyshire is intended in the following pages; therefore, the author trusts he shall not be censured for not accomplishing what was never in his contemplation. He has selected his own plan, and he has chosen that which not only leaves him free and unshackled in his operations, but gives him an uncontrolled dominion over every object that may be presented to his observation. The topographer is circumscribed in his proceedings, and restrained in all his movements. He must necessarily travel over all the ground his design embraces, however dull and uninteresting it may prove; the tourist has higher privileges and a happier avocation ; like a bird upon the wing, he explores a wide horizon, flits over all that is uninviting, and rests only on pleasant places.
Farther to develope the plan of this work is unnecessary, yet it may not be wholly useless to say that it has originated in a series of Rambles undertaken for the purposes only of pleasure and amusement. The observations suggested, and the memorandums made on these occasions, gradually accumulated in bulk and interest, until they had assumed a form which induced the writer to prepare them for the press. Elegant printing and finely-executed engravings were not then in his contemplation, but, thrown amongst Artists of no inferior estimation, he has gladly availed himself of their as